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Principal Ideas: Achievements, Training, Change, and More

Just think of Principal Ideas as a virtual show-and-tell for principals. Each week in the coming school year we'll present five new principal-tested ideas. Send in your idea today! See the sidebar to learn how to be part of Principal Ideas.

Pointers from

Education World columnist George Pawlas is author of The Administrator's Guide to School-Community Relations, which contains hundreds of great principal ideas -- like this one that Pawlas shared with us:

Do you get all the mileage you can out of your school marquee? (Not to worry! If your school doesn't have a marquee out front, perhaps a local business will let you "borrow" space on one side of their marquee. You only need one side for people to see your message.) Use your marquee space to announce
  • special performances and events.
  • student achievements and awards.
  • test-result success.
    Or maybe your school has a special need. One day I passed a school marquee that announced "WE NEED TENNIS BALLS." Turns out they were collecting tennis balls to put on the bottom of the legs of students' desk chairs so the chairs would glide quietly across floors. I'm not sure how well that marquee worked out for them, but it was a great way to get out the message!
Be sure to see George Pawlas's monthly Ed World column, Pawlas on PR for PRincipals. Click here to learn more about his book, The Administrator's Guide to School-Community Relations, or to purchase a copy.

Celebrating Teacher Milestones With Book Donations

When it's time to honor a teacher for achieving a special milestone -- a retirement, a 20-years-of-teaching anniversary, or the completion of a master's degree for example -- we recognize that milestone by purchasing a book or two for the school library. Often we give our teachers the choice of what books to purchase. We include inside the books a special bookplate to commemorate the teacher, the landmark occasion, and the date.
Source: "Sixty-Five Ways to Recognize Teachers During Teacher Appreciation Week -- and All Year Long" ( -- April 22, 2003)

Teacher-Led Training

Teacher-led staff sessions can be among the most effective. The best staff meeting I have ever experienced was one where one of the teachers led us through a simplified form of the DISC personality inventory. Each teacher was given four pictures -- a lion, an otter, a golden retriever, and a beaver. They had to choose which of those animals most accurately depicted themselves. Before each teacher revealed his or her "self-assessment," the rest of us made our own assessments based on how we perceived them. Then staff members showed their choices. It was a lot of fun getting to know one another better. I continue to use the DISC survey. Before hiring a new teacher, I have each prospect complete the survey as part of the interview process. We discuss how their personality will fit into the organization. It helps me understand how to work most effectively with each staff member.
Source: Brian Hazeltine, "Great Staff Meetings: Pointers from the Principals Who Lead Them" ( -- August 20, 2002)

Business Partnerships in Small Communities Too!

Creating partnerships with businesses can be difficult in small communities such as ours where there is only one grocery store. However, schools in small communities should not hesitate to expand their search for business partners to businesses in surrounding communities that are supported by residents of their town. That is a lesson I learned when I was contacted by the Costco store in a nearby town. Costco invited me to send a volunteer to a backpack-stuffing event. Volunteers stuffed backpacks with lots of goodies, and schools that sent volunteers got to take away a few of the stuffed backpacks for their neediest students. As principals, we need to reach out to businesses -- including those businesses that are part of our larger communities -- to see what kinds of programs they might have available or what opportunities for partnering might be created.
Source: Jill Massa, "School-Business Partnerships That Work: Success Stories from Schools of All Sizes" ( -- September 16, 2003)

Change Is Difficult

The best staff meeting I ever organized was for the first day of school last year. We worked with consultant Renee Rodriguez. She was charming, inspiring, and funny. That motivated everybody and got us off to an enthusiastic beginning. We really connected as a staff, and we laughed a lot! Among the activities that Rodriguez led was one in which everybody tried to fold their arms in the opposite way they were accustomed to folding them. That activity emphasized how difficult change can be. Rodriguez also led the staff in chants that reinforced why we are teachers. We were all engaged around the same topics and themes -- making learning meaningful and fun.
Source: Sherri Goffman, "Great Staff Meetings: Pointers from the Principals Who Lead Them" ( -- August 20, 2002)


Join the Fun -- Share an Idea!

The ideas presented in this article come from the Education World archive and from principals just like you. Since these principals have been kind enough to "show and tell" an idea, now it's your turn! Share an idea you've used to

- Celebrate Students
- Welcome Students Back to School
- Motivate Teachers
- Involve Parents
- Raise Money
- Plan a Special Event
- Make Graduation Day Special
- Liven Up Your A.M. Announcements
- Plan an Effective Staff Meeting
- Get Some Good PR for Your School

or any other topic of interest to principals.

Send your idea today to [email protected].

Be sure to include your name, your school name, and your school address because if we post your idea in Principal Ideas, we'll send you an Education World mug!

Education World® Editor-in-Chief
Copyright © 2006 Education World